Completing the close of a successful campaign is certainly cause for celebration. A campaign close event presents an amazing opportunity to not only celebrate reaching an important milestone, but to deepen donors’ emotional commitment, engage a broader constituency, and sow seeds for future philanthropic support.
#1: Publicly celebrate the successful completion of an ambitious campaign.
Development professionals, organizational staff, campaign volunteers, and donors have all worked together to advance the institution’s priorities through their participation in the campaign, and their efforts deserve to be honored. An end-of-campaign event is the perfect time to celebrate meeting—or exceeding—the campaign’s goal and to publicly announce the final sum of contributions and pledges.
Considering the campaign’s theme and the priorities it supported will help you choose a venue and plan the celebration for your campaign close. Perhaps an existing facility has been upgraded or a new facility has been built as a result of the campaign. Holding the celebration in this facility would be an appropriate way to showcase one of the campaign’s priorities. Plan activities—speeches, videos, entertainment elements—that capture the emotional journey in meeting the funding priorities of the campaign. Be intentional in selecting these activities.
Think about ways you can recognize key contributors and showcase their efforts. Perhaps a donor or volunteer is known for his or her motivational speaking ability and would be willing to deliver a moving speech about the power of the campaign. Be mindful that one of the main purposes of the event is to celebrate the efforts of everyone involved. Avoid singling out a donor for recognition if he or she would prefer not to be in the public spotlight. Conversely, be careful not to leave anyone out.
Ask and Act:
- What venue will best showcase the accomplishments of the campaign?
- How can you best recognize key contributors and celebrate their efforts?
- Where do you want attendees to be emotionally when they enter the celebration venue? Where would you like them to be when they leave? How will you get them there?
#2: Demonstrate the impact of funds raised.
In addition to recognizing key contributors, the close event is a perfect vehicle for showcasing the impact the funds raised have on people, programs, and facilities of your institution. Plan speeches from students or faculty who have been directly affected by the funds raised. Videos can be utilized to feature more voices and areas impacted. Or consider including performances by campaign-supported programs.
Ask and Act:
- Which people and programs best represent the impact of the campaign?
- How can you use the available resources to demonstrate this impact?
- Do the speeches, videos, and performances move people along on the emotional journey you have planned for the event?
#3: Plant the seed for future philanthropy.
A successful campaign close should be viewed not as an end, but as a new beginning. A campaign enables an institution to, as one university president puts it, “stand on higher ground.” And from that higher ground, it’s possible to see even greater possibilities.
Ask and Act:
- What are the new and exciting possibilities can you see as a result of your campaign? In what ways can you use these possibilities to inspire your audience?
- How might you involve students in your event to inspire a new generation of donors?
- In what ways can you use the emotional journey of the campaign close event to emphasize the importance of further philanthropy?